The Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake: An Anticipated Event

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Science  19 Jan 1990:
Vol. 247, Issue 4940, pp. 286-293
DOI: 10.1126/science.247.4940.286


The first major earthquake on the San Andreas fault since 1906 fulfilled a long-term forecast for its rupture in the southern Santa Cruz Mountains. Severe damage occurred at distances of up to 100 kilometers from the epicenter in areas underlain by ground known to be hazardous in strong earthquakes. Stronger earthquakes will someday strike closer to urban centers in the United States, most of which also contain hazardous ground. The Loma Prieta earthquake demonstrated that meaningful predictions can be made of potential damage patterns and that, at least in well-studied areas, long-term forecasts can be made of future earthquake locations and magnitudes. Such forecasts can serve as a basis for action to reduce the threat major earthquakes pose to the United States.

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